When a real Master Sommelier (capitalization required and deserved) opens a wine bar, most would imagine it an oenophile’s temple to snobbery. After all, there are only 200 such wine-wonks in the entire world, and so what better place to showcase that knowledge than in your own place?
Thankfully, snobbery isn’t Cuvee Wine Table owner Scott Harper’s style in any respect, and especially so with wine. Oh, he can leap past wine-geek trivia to pinot grigio-dry wine facts in a millisecond—but only if you ask. He even asks permission to dive into the science of wine making, saying, “If that just doesn’t bore you, I’ll go there.”
If wine drinking isn’t approachable and accessible to all, no one wants to do it, Harper said during a press conference last Friday, just hours before Cuvée’s grand opening. He wants it to be a place where anyone with interest in the fermented grape can feel at ease.
He puts customers at ease by offering some 55 wines by the glass and nearly 70 by the bottle: arguably a short list of selections beside some comparably encyclopedic lineups in town. Old World and New World selections can be found, and a balance of the recognizable and “I’ve never heard of that one” choices are available. He poured two of the latter for the press group: a Furmint Erzsebet Pince Tokaj from Hungary; and a Monthelie (pinot noir) Chateau de Puligny, Montrachet, Cote do Beaune from France. Both were outstanding wines that exemplify choices Harper loves to surprise with.
“It’s always enjoyable, to me anyway, to give people something new,” Harper said. “It gives them a new experience and most times, they want to learn more.”
The name Cuvée Wine Table has a double meaning, Harper explained. Cuvee is a French wine term meaning a blend, and Table was chosen to imply wine’s communal qualities. (One of the space’s standout elements is its 10-person table.) He also chose table to steer clear of any implication of the term “wine bar,” for bar, Harper said, is regularly interpreted as a place to get rapid service or a wide range of beer and cocktails.
“If you looked closely and counted, you saw just seven bourbons on the bar, and one tequila, one vodka and gin,” Harper said. Beer drinkers get eight selections here. “I didn’t want to tell
bourbon drinkers no when they asked for it, but first and foremost, this is about wine.”
Customers can buy wine pours from 2 ozs. to 6.25 ozs. or full bottles, with prices ranging on the extremes from as little as $3.50 for splash of Moscato to $238 for a bottle of Kosta Brown Pinot Noir. Most 6-ounce pours sell for low double-digit prices, but the list is well curated, so you’re paying for a unique experience, not just getting a wine fix.
Executive chef Edoardo Bacci has prepared a menu of about 30 small plates created for wine pairing. Servers are trained to make suggestions to ensure ideal matches as well. If that sounds fussy, just eat the food and choose whatever wine seems best. Not only might it be impossible to make a bad pairing here, if you just want to come nosh a bit, Cuvée would be a great choice.
Cuvee Wine Table is located at 3598 Springhurst Blvd. (formerly Papalino’s Pizza, if that helps.) It’s open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Friday-Saturday, 11-11 p.m.